I was never supposed to like her. Yes, she saved my wife and infant daughter from an attack by the Dark Side. I will forever be in her debt for that. But there is an aspect to her that I just cannot reconcile with, no matter what she or I do. Dace has a feral side to her that simply defies containment. Oh, she seems to be able to control it to an extent, but it will never be completely leashed.
And yet, she and I are connected in ways that defy explanation. The very fact that her twin daughters are so inextricably bound to my Rose is at once ridiculous and fascinating to me as a psychiatrist. And yet, I can see -- and feel -- their connection very clearly.
It is for the sake of those three little girls -- and the continuation of my marriage -- that I have been working with Dace on a regular basis. For all of her feral feline nature, she has a level of control and focus that is unparalleled. She has been invaluable to my studies in regaining and controlling my own latent talents. The fact that I feel there's something to prove to her is only pushing me to the limit to excel.
"Focus, Rachel!" Dace's voice cuts into my thoughts and I sigh. "Get out of your damned head and focus."
"I'm trying," I growl and roll my neck and shoulders, wincing at the loud cracks.
"No, you're not." Her voice is softer now, gentler, and her hands settle lightly on my shoulders. "Close your eyes."
Without thought, I do as I'm told, surprised at the ease with which I surrender to her voice and hands. Concentrating on regulating my breathing, Dace's words wash over me like a soothing mantra. In my mind's eye, the image appears as vividly as if viewed on television: the bottle of water hovering just an inch above the tabletop.
I know I can do it. The Cantwell gifts are strong in me and Kat both. I always refused them because of the darker aspects of what my grandfather, aunt, and mother did. But I can't do that anymore. My children need protection, as do all of these gifted children living here at the Ranch and elsewhere.
The image in my mind's eye expands now to show Rose and the twins on the other side of the table, their eyes lighting up eagerly, egging me on to lift the bottle for them. Little Rose's face is so earnest; she looks so much like her mother, it hurts. I can't let her down, any of them. My family needs me to be strong and in control of every aspect of my life. And as much as I am loathe to admit it, Dace and her twins are part of my family now.
"Open your eyes, Rachel."
At first, I don't want to; I don't want to lose this feeling, this image in my mind's eye. But eventually, I acquiesce and let my eyelids flutter open.
To see that water bottle hovering an inch off the tabletop.